Comrades 2016



  • lowrezlowrez ✭✭✭

    Dubai - the heat was the one aspect that I didn't do anything about in training, I'm in the UK, its possibly the most dangerous aspect of the run for people in my predicament. Many tactics here involving going to saunas, wearing extra clothes, driving to work with the heating counter was to continually chuck water over myself, which worked very well, but my feet suffered and blistered as a result. I would like to push more and look at a bronze in 2016 but I'm not sure I'll be able to knock a whole hour off in the heat.

    Despite several typos the Comrades site has 2016 training schedules published. Once again, for finisher and bronze schedules they look remarkably mild. The emphasis is clearly on low risk injury free prep. Strength exercises for the legs is pushed as a "must" for a down run; I did nothing on that last year; has anyone got any recommended programmes for that? 

    I'd love to "naturally" qualify for Boston as a result of Comrades training, was unable to get anywhere near that kind of tempo last year.

    Coming out of 55 miles just a few weeks back it doesn't feel right picking up the bronze schedule and dropping the mileage so drastically, what are other folks looking at on their current training schedules?

  • Fido2DogsFido2Dogs ✭✭✭

    Sports Tours International.

    Basically in 2010 I got the qualifying time for Boston 2012, but in 2011 they changed the entry system to take the fastest cut from each group of qualifiers and I missed the cut by 14 seconds, so I thought, bugger it, I will go in on a tour place.

    In the event, I'd been injured that spring *and* it was the 30 deg C day so it was no surprise I did it in 5 hours, the surprise was that so many other people did too image. That was excellent (heat, hills) Comrades prep and that year I got my only bronze.

    lowrez - McHilly and I were talking on Sat about how the sauna sitting worked well for us, but you have to find what works for you as an h'individual.

    Have an appt to see a sports medicine specialist about my knee in just over a week.Hurrah.

    lowrez - squats, bridges, core stability work - basically stuff for the quads, glutes, and the core stabiliser muscles. Bound to be shedloads of examples on RW, YouTube etc.

  • PG3PG3 ✭✭✭

    My plan is to train normally for a marathon for Abingdon in mid Oct and, rest for a few weeks, then start to work on the long slow stuff.  Does this sound ok?  I have read before that its not a good idea to race anything after Jan.

    I would like to get sub 4 at Abingdon so i can get in the sub 4 pen.  I did 4h6 at Brighton this year 12 months after having a baby.  I  hope i can improve by 7 mins in Oct.

    I had a look at the programmes.  I only want to finish, but the finishers programme is directed at someone 2h30 half marathon, so would it not be right?  I am keep to err on the side of caution as i do get injured and am not a natural build for a runner.

  • PG3PG3 ✭✭✭

    Re accommodation, I have just booked 3 nights at Hilton Durban (fri - sun).  I booked as there is free cancellation with until the day before check in.  Is this the right one?  The price is £200 per night  for a double which feels pretty steep.

    I have also just booked a room at Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani which is 0.6 miles from the Hilton.  It's less than £100 a night and is also free cancellation.  I will leave the bookings in place until closer to the time but if anyone has any feedback on this then I would be grateful.


  • Becca7Becca7 ✭✭✭

    PG3 - that sounds like a good approach.  Bear in mind that lots of folks who do Comrades aren't coming from a background of much running.  I would follow a Bronze training programme, rather than the beginner one.  That said, it is good to train for an autumn marathon, get a qualifier, then start Comrades training in December/January. Fingers crossed you should be good for sub 4 at Abingdon.  

    That should be the right hotel, Walnut Road.  That price is a lot higher than I paid last year, but I got a non-refundable deal.

  • Bike ItBike It ✭✭✭

    Lindsay is also the coach of Caroline Worstman - 2015 champ so his methods are vindicated. BUT they are aimed at the SA climate and race schedule AND they are not for targeting a fast marathon in the Bronze, VC or BR category during the training cycle.

    The back-to-back runs are excessive IMHO and lead to injury if done every week.  Also there is lack of variety and people who follow them would do well to substitute alternative sessions with the hill repeats and 8km tempo sessions.

    Personally my schedule looks like this:

    June-July-August - focus on speed and prepare for my local 10km race - volume limited to (very) roughly  60km /35m per week - It is cold in SA now so I can run faster

    Sept-Oct-mid November - focus on speed and add volume and prepare for qualifying marathon in mid Nov. 60-90km per week 35-55m roughly.  It is getting warmer so all sessions become more challenging.

    Mid-November -December - recovery period

    Jan-Feb 2016 - prepare qualification marathon 2 in beginning march.  Volume as qualification marathon 2.

    March-May 2016 - increase volume steadily following marathon recovery

    Personally I follow an approach of 3x 'quality session' per week on non-sequential days, e.g.

    LSR, 2x MLR

    LSR, MLR, speed

    LSR, MLR, hills

    plus other runs to fill in and add volume/recovery


  • Bike ItBike It ✭✭✭

    The main area that gets challenged in the Comrades DOWN is the quads.  They get eccentrically loaded - that is the muscle length gets stretched when the muscle is contracting, which is different to the regular case of the length of the muscle reducing when contracting.  This happens when absorbing the impact of the downhill descent.

    Basic moves to replicate eccentric loading are lunges, with or without weighting.  Also you can do 'box jumps' but only after a period doing lunges as they are very severe and could risk injury if the fundamental strength is undeveloped.

    Also I would add squats for basic leg strength.

    So your basic minimum would look like:

    3 sets lunges each leg of about 10-15 reps (weighted if you can, but unweighted still fine)

    3 sets squats about 15-20 reps (weighted if you can, but unweighted still fine)

    2-3 times per week this probably takes less than 10 minutes.

    Of course there is much more you can do.....

  • I suppose I could look online but what are the general weather conditions come Comrades time? 

  • Fido2DogsFido2Dogs ✭✭✭
    If you are South African: winter! Get flu shots! Wrap up warm!

    If British: glorious summer. Prepare by sitting in saunas. Make sure your sunblock doesn't give you hives.

    Seriously (!)
  • PG3 - it's nice to be in the sub 4 pen but don't get too stressed about it. Even on the Down run, the whole field gets across the line in, I think, about 15 minutes, so the difference between one pen and the next is a couple of minutes at most. 

  • Mc HillyMc Hilly ✭✭✭

    I keep looking at the Hilton website, they've got the price really high for the comrades weekend........ If you put in just one night and say your flexible, you can see the different prices....... Normal price is about £67 (non refundable) but as you say about £200 on comrades weekend...... I'll keep watching and hope it changes at some point ( but will book a cheaper refundable back up option)

  • Fido just checked the weather, colder than winter. May need a base layer!

  • Bike ItBike It ✭✭✭

    Typical race day weather is -5C to +5C at the start at PMB. Sun-up by around the time we are at Big Pollies then temperature starts to rise. By 10am expect around 18-20C then max would be about 22-25C at 2pm-4pm. In this case slower runners have to run average hotter conditions.  Of course this is just typical weather - in 2013 we had freak weather of 32C and in 2015 it was just hotter than average at 28C.

  • lowrezlowrez ✭✭✭

    Bike/Fido - Thanks for all the great detail on the training programmes, wonderful stuff.

    I just checked The Hilton price I got last time; booked on 4th Sept 2014, 3 nights commencing the Friday, rate type "Summer Sale", non-refundable, paid immediately, 6653 ZAR, aka 125 GBP per night, included breakfast. Would normally not even have a Hilton in my sights on any trip but reading up on the ease of how it fits in with everything and then actually experiencing it I am sold on the idea. Not booking it yet in the hope for a similar deal; my approach last year, not knowing how easy it was to enter Comrades, no rush at all, was to wait up till midnight for the website to open, get my entry confirmed and then commit to flights and hotel. Obviously not necessary, but it did mean I stumbled nicely into that room rate.

    Funny how this heat thing is relative and that you can acclimatise to it; time to turn the garden shed into a sauna!

    This year, from my perspective, "Pen Policing" was totally absent, I squeezed in to Pen C unchallenged 20 minutes prior to the start, I should have been in Pen CC, but couldn't find it, so my action was to a degree justifiable, but I joined many other lower Pen rankers piling in to Pen C. I'm not advocating that as something you should intentionally set out to do though, just re-counting the chaos I got wound up in. I agree that at the end of the day it's not something to get too hung up about. Once you are on the road you have 55 miles worth of variability to manage your approach to the finish line in, that is plenty to adjust your pace accordingly.

  • DannirrDannirr ✭✭✭

    I think the biggest thing - if you are in the last 2 starting pens - is not to panic. As lower says, there is plenty of time to make up the difference. But I think many zoom off and try make up the 12-15 minutes right away leading to disaster.

    Coach Parry has a podcast on how to save 20 mins on race day.  Well worth a listen to.


  • Mr KMr K ✭✭✭

    Did the last runner clear the starting line @ +9mins?

  • PG3PG3 ✭✭✭

    Dannirr - we should all listen to that closer to the day also image  Thanks for sharing.

  • PG3PG3 ✭✭✭

    Thanks Dannirr - i have emailed them to myself.

  • Hi guys, regarding the starting pens.  I was in pen F for this years up run.  I was initially quite paranoid about how long it would take to cross the start but then i heard it was pretty wide and opens right on the highway so you get over the start relatively quickly.  I was at the back of pen F.  It took about 7 min for me to cross the start.  Then it was very congested so ended up walking for about 4+ minutes.  When I finally got jogging it was very very slow going (maybe this was a good thing).   Felt i had no control over my pace or time for the first 15-20km or so, just moving with the heard.  Finished the comrades with 23 min to spare. Not sure how others in pen F, G and H felt about this.  Think the down run may be a lot worse in terms of lost time at the start.

  • Fido2DogsFido2Dogs ✭✭✭

    I've been in pen F in 2012, 2014 and this year was in G and it took me 5 mins 27 to get over the start line this year. 

    (A friend in F actually got over the start line a minute later).

    Wouldn't worry about it. 

  • PG3PG3 ✭✭✭

    Isn't the starting area wider for the Up run than the Down?

  • DannirrDannirr ✭✭✭

    PG3 - it defiantly takes longer to spread out when leaving Pietermaritzburg versus leaving Durban.  Roads are narrower and it's darker (less street lights).   I think the starting corral is important on the down run.  If you cannot get into D or better, I think it's worthwhile to raise the R5000 needed to get into the CC pen.

  • Fido2DogsFido2Dogs ✭✭✭
    That's not been my experience - this year was the first time I met the walking pace congestion after the start line (that you get at say London). Never took long (~5") to get over the line.

    SlowDuck is the one with most experience though (and used to be further back than C/D/E!) so ask him.
  • PG3PG3 ✭✭✭

    Question on starting pens.. I am likely to be in D if Abingdon goes well or E if it doesn't.  Between the 2 pens, there is a 'Green Number Club' - what is this and is it big?

  • DannirrDannirr ✭✭✭

    It's the folks who have done 10 or more Comrades - like Slow Duck. E would be fine too but I would tru avoid F to H if I could. 

  • I agree.  Unless i can do a qualifying marathon downhill in a wind tunnel with vaseline on my shoes I doubt I will get better than another F pen start so for 2016 I will be going for the charity CC pen.  With the time to cross the start and the congestion for the first several kms I rekon it will save me about 10min; for me that will make a difference. 

  • I was a bit worried about pens this year - having qualified 11 minutes slower I was two pens further back (F rather than D) because of the Green number guys in between sub 4 and sub 4:20. But it really only makes a few minutes difference - you could spend longer in a queue for a portaloo. There's going to be more difference between C and G, but one or two pens doesn't matter much.
  • Fido2DogsFido2Dogs ✭✭✭

    Much more important is to concentrate on resting and eating right the days before the race. Toilet visits or time spent hurling at the side of the road really eat up the time!

  • DannirrDannirr ✭✭✭

    I think the thing to consider though is not just time.  It's stress.  We can know that making up 10'minutes over 55 miles is ok, but the stress of that delay increases the anxiety for weeks before the race, and leads us to go out too fast.  

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